The Best Gift

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By Lucy Fuller

This is going to be difficult to write so please bear with me. I apologize in advance for the rambling as I have a wide array of emotions and points to put down on this piece of paper.
Remember when I told you about chasing sunsets? I explained why writing was not only a gift for me but that it is also a gift to you. I explained how to unwrap the words carefully. I also mentioned my father’s suicide and a stepfather who was not so kind. It took years of therapy to let go of all of my mixed emotion filled baggage. I was burdened with a lot of rage, shame, guilt, fear and mostly, sadness. I struggled for many years. There were many times when I almost gave up, but I stuck around to tell you about it. Hopefully, you are reading this and will gain truth or insight. Maybe the words will wrap around your shoulders and give you a well deserved warm hug.
Here’s a spoiler alert; it’s all going to be okay.
The truth is, I am loved. I am blessed. I have so much to be thankful for and so much to be proud of.
Eighteen years is a long time to mess up, break down, and rebuild yourself. My mother and stepfather divorced 18 years ago, and it has become a distant memory in my mind. I have told you before that I have a tendency to block out things. It’s my coping mechanism.
My father’s birthday is in November. Right around Thanksgiving and the Iron Bowl. (You know, one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports). In my younger years, the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and football was enough to keep me distracted from his absence. I still yearned for him and missed him, don’t get me wrong. With football in the South being just as big as the holiday season, you can only imagine how preoccupied we become with November and December. November has always been my “weak” month.
As I have grown older and have children of my own, my thoughts and feelings have changed. Suicide haunts me. I cannot imagine losing a child. The thought of it makes my stomach churn. I don’t have to imagine losing a friend, a father, or grandparents, to suicide. I know what it’s like. I’ve lived through it countless times. I have no fancy words to describe how awful it is. It sucks. This time of year seems to be the worst for suicides. Maybe its because there is so much that most of us are preoccupied with that we forget to notice the change in others. We fail to see the blank stares, the missed attendance at holiday gatherings, and other signs that are present. We are so wrapped up with our own lives that we forget the lives of those around us, maybe. People hurt more this time of year.
We all handle grief and loss in different ways. I still am saddened by the loss of so many people close to me. Even the divorce still haunts me. I may not voice it, but it does make my heart ache. This time of year, it hits me the hardest, because there is always that one empty seat where my father should be and where my stepfather was.
What if I told you that I received a phone call from my stepfather? I hadn’t heard from him or seen him in 18 years and after having a week of struggling with my own demons, the phone rings. Its an unknown number. I answer, and it’s him. Now, I am not going to get into the details of the phone call. Things were said and emotions were extremely raw. I was angry, and so was he. I began to cry, and so did he. That’s when it happened. When the first tear hit my cheek something inside of me snapped. Part of me snapped and fell away like a branch of a tree in a storm. Every ounce of guilt, anger, shame, blame, and sadness plummeted to the ground and landed with a sudden release of weight followed by a smile.
I had forgiven him.
I forgave him.
Eighteen years.
I listened to what he was saying and instead of arguing I told him that I understood. Sometimes, understanding is the best gift you can give another human being. Sometimes, all someone needs to hear is someone say, “I understand.” Sometimes, when you receive an unexpected phone call from an unexpected person from your past you find yourself taking the call. I never dreamed I would be speaking to him on the phone at midnight, standing in my kitchen, and all of a sudden forgiving him and feeling happy about it. How is this even possible, after all of the pain? I forgave him right then and there. And, he also forgave me for my role as a difficult teenager. His role as a stepfather was a tough one, and I never made it easy. I truly wish I knew then what I know now. We never saw eye to eye but we can agree, now, that we were both stubborn. It struck me that we both shared the same pain. The loss of loved ones. My heart hurt for him, and it still does.
We both answered the phone awaiting conflict, yet we hung up with tears in our eyes and smiles on our faces. “It was really, really good talking with you, Lucy-Winn”, he said.
It was really, really good talking with him, too.
Isn’t it lovely when things come full circle? Sometimes our past can haunt us, but sometimes our past makes us appreciate how far we have actually come. I am so thankful for letting go and learning how to forgive. You know that forgiveness is truly met when you look back and smile with a full heart. I am so grateful for all of the seasons of life. With each one comes a lesson and healing. It makes it all worth it, even if it hurts a little or a lot… especially in November.
Lucy Fuller is a lover of nature, animals, gardening, and old houses. She is a full time mother and wife. She currently resides in Dadeville with her husband, two daughters, 4 dogs, and cat. She may be reached at fullalove2017@gmail.com.

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